Spartanburg, S.C. - Sophomore designated player Meredith Owen (Jackson, Miss.) hit two home runs and freshman pitcher Courtney Brandt (Dade City, Fla.) slugged her team-leading eighth home run of the season to lead the Stetson softball team to a 5-2 win at USC Upstate in the opener of an Atlantic Sun Conference doubleheader Sunday at Cyrill Stadium. Despite scoring in each of the first two frames, the Hatters dropped the nightcap 4-2 to the Spartans and are now 23-18 overall and 8-8 in A-Sun play.
Owen hit .571 (four for seven) on the day while sophomore center fielder Chrissy Morello (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was four for eight (.500) with an RBI double.
STETSON 5, USC UPSTATE 2 - GAME 1
The Hatters started scoring against USC Upstate sophomore ace Hannah Alexander in the first inning as Owen launched a full count pitch with two outs over the right center field fence for a solo home run. The Spartans would not take too long to answer, however, as DeLand native Shellie Robinson hit the first pitch of the bottom of the second inning out of the park to center field.
Ericka Harris's RBI single in the bottom of the fifth put the home team ahead 2-1, but Stetson refused to stay down. Owen led off the top of the sixth with a double to left on the first pitch and her pinch runner, freshman Kandi Kuder (Newbury Park, Calif.), immediately got to jog home when Brandt smashed a two-run homer to left center field for a 3-2 Hatters lead.
Owen gave her team some insurance in the top of the seventh when she again hammered Alexander's first pitch, this time over the center field wall, for a two-run homer to make the score 5-2.
Brandt took it from there, earning her 10th win of the season in a complete game effort. She scattered two runs on five hits and five walks with two strikeouts; Alexander took the loss while fanning five; she lost for only the fifth time this year against 24 victories.
Owen finished three for four with three RBI and Stetson's first two-homer game since Rachel Lowe '11 hit two out April 7, 2011 in a 6-5 home win over ETSU; it was the first multi-home run game for a Hatter on the road since Jessica Lokeinsky '10 did it in a 6-4 win at Belmont April 17, 2010. Brandt and senior shortstop Chelsey Trotto (Lantana, Fla.) also had two hits for the Hatters.
USC UPSTATE 4, STETSON 2 - GAME 2
The Hatters had designs on a road sweep after RBI doubles by Trotto in the first and Morello in the second left them up 2-0 with two outs in the third. Spartans second baseman Janna Lewis tied the game with a two-run single up the middle at that point, however, and relief pitcher Casee Clauser shut down the Stetson offense the rest of the way.
USC Upstate loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the fourth, setting the stage for Haley Sheehan to deliver a pinch-hit two-run single through the right side of the infield for what proved to be the winning runs. A two-hour rain delay hit starting in the middle of the fifth inning and no offense could be produced by either side when it finally lifted at 6:45 pm.
Morello went three for four in the second game to extend her hitting streak to nine games while Owen picked up a single to run her own hit streak to 10 games. Trotto's double was her sixth of the season.
Owen went the distance in the circle for Stetson before and after the rain delay and took the loss. Clauser earned the win in relief of Sam Poarch.
The Hatters visit UCF at 6:30 pm Wednesday in their final non-conference action of the year. Live Stats will be available at GoHatters.com.
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